Accountability software ensures that you are always being productive during working hours. We all know how easy it is to get distracted by video games or social media.
If you’re a freelancer struggling to manage your time effectively, or you run a company and want to ensure that the employees are working, accountability software could be the solution you’re looking for.
We tested out some of the most popular accountability software around, and after reading this review, you’ll be able to pick the right platforms for you.
Choosing the Accountability Software
Best Overall: Hubstaff
Hubstaff can be installed on Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, iOS, and as an extension on Google Chrome.
There is a free demo version with limited functionality. However, the monthly fee for the standard version isn’t expensive.
Hubstaff gives the user a percentage based on how much time they spent working on projects, indicating a user’s level of productivity.
A high percentage means a hard worker, whereas a low percentage shows unproductivity. This percentage is tracked by mouse clicks and keyboard input.
This gives you a visual representation of your time spent on work which can help put your productivity into perspective
The Task Management feature allows a company to assign tasks according to users’ productivity levels.
An issue we have with Hubstaff is how it bills groups of people instead of individual users.
For example, if you have eleven members in a small company, you would be forced to pay for thirteen members as there are set prices for different sized groups.
This leads to unnecessary costs for those who don’t have the exact amount of people in that specific package.
Another issue is stability. This is demanding software uses a lot of data to produce accurate results. You need a powerful machine to run Hubstaff.
Hubstaff needs little training to master its user interface.
It has a simple design, allowing you to track time spent on projects or assign work to other users. You can also create due dates and set an estimate of how much time a user should spend working on projects.
Who is it for?
Hubstaff’s tools, like the productivity percentage and task manager, are best for those who want accountability platforms with accurate statistics and strong visuals.
- Good user interface
- Integrated with many tools and software
- Reliable Customer support
- Comprehensive tracking options
- Billing charged to groups
- App stability
Alternative: Time Doctor
Time Doctor is available for download on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and as a Google Chrome extension.
It offers a 14-day free trial so you can test the waters and decide whether you’ll make the full purchase.
Time Doctor allows easy data management by breaking down projects and departments into individual tasks.
It has built-in employee monitoring capabilities like live screenshots that report your screen time.
Using the mobile application gives you access to GPS monitoring, providing automatic time tracking as someone arrives at or leaves a job site. This provides more accurate tracking of employees when they’re on site.
Speaking of the accountability app, we didn’t like that you couldn’t control the push notifications. It notifies you about everything instead of allowing you to set what should appear as a notification.
Time Doctor’s computer and mobile user interface is easy to navigate. However, when compared to Hubstaff, it isn’t as customizable and feels dated.
Who is it for?
Time Doctor includes the basics in accountability software such as the time tracking capabilities.
Companies can monitor their employees’ work rates, or freelancers can make sure they’re spending an adequate amount of time on their projects.
We like the inclusion of advanced monitoring like screenshots and GPS.
- Easy to use
- Adaptable to any business size
- Create invoices with ease
- Synchronize desktop and mobile application
- Dated user interface
- Can’t control instant text alerts on the mobile version
Best Value: DeskTime
DeskTime can be accessed on a variety of machines including Mac, Linux, and Windows computers.
It also offers integration with Android and Apple devices.
Apple users will be disappointed as there’s no integration with Safari.
The main feature of interest is the DeskTime Dashboard. This tracks your time usage from the moment you arrive at work to when you leave.
A productivity tab displays vertical bars for every hour of the day. Green bars indicate being productive, whilst orange or grey bars show unproductivity.
Hovering over these bars shows a productive percentage, along with every website or application accessed in that hour. This gives you granular data on every employee’s actions, so you know exactly who’s working and who’s procrastinating.
The Projects Tab allows you to assign tasks easily. The inclusion of a built-in timer means you can keep a close eye on looming deadlines.
We found DeskTime’s user interface a breeze to navigate.
With plenty of bars, snapshots, and adjustable colors, this software has a variety of ways to both analyze and display information. This data gives you detailed insight into the productivity of all your employees.
Who is it for?
DeskTime is for those looking for feature-packed accountability software.
It’s more accessible than TimeDoctor, but it’s also more expensive.
You want to make sure you make use of all of DeskTime’s functionalities to get the best value for your money.
- Impressive number of tools
- Friendly user interface
- Comprehensive reports and feedback
- Good use of screenshots and graphs
- No Safari support
- Lack of customization
Monday.com isn’t the cheapest option but it’s the best alternative to DeskTime. There is a standard and pro version. We’ll be looking at the latter.
It has a 14-day free trial that doesn’t require your credit card details. We thought this was a considerate touch. How many times have you signed up for a “free trial” only to be charged because you forgot to cancel your subscription?
Monday.com is easily accessible on the majority of your devices. It can be installed on Windows, Mac, or can be accessed directly through your web browser.
Mobile versions for Android and IOS devices are also available for a more on-the-go experience.
Monday.com allows you to create projects and set a time frame to work in. This is done using The Board.
Every day is separated by a new row. Each row is color-coded so you don’t get lost staring at rows of black text. This is especially helpful for large teams where navigating the hundreds of tasks can become a confusing mess.
We wish more customization options were available. Applying changes to one board automatically applies them to all the other boards.
Monday.com has a variety of integrations including Gmail, Dropbox, and Slack. No matter what platform your team uses to communicate, odds are Monday.com will have you covered.
Monday.com’s interface is well laid out, but limited customization leaves room for improvement.
Who is it for?
Monday.com is the best alternative to DeskTime but comes at a hefty price.
Teams working remotely will find the various integration tools useful.
- Good integration
- Variety of tools
- Easy navigating the software
- The inclusion of automation
- Limited customization
Best Budget: Clockify
Clockify can be accessed through your browser. If you prefer desktop applications, it’s also available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. There’s a mobile port for IOS and Android.
Clockify has typical time tracking abilities such as adding projects, tags, and setting a due date.
A standout feature is the calendar tab that immediately begins tracking any project. This allows you to accurately plan your days and workflow.
Dashboard and Reports tabs provide both a visual and analytical interpretation with accurate productivity statistics, giving you a choice between graphs and plain numbers.
We liked the addition of the Teams tab which allows you to add several members to a group in case they need to be contacted simultaneously. This way, communication is all kept in one place.
Where this software falters is its online-only functionality.
This is a major let-down as you can’t access the app when you are offline. You’ll have to research and set up an appropriate network to use Clockify in the workplace.
The computer and browser apps both have intuitive interfaces.
There are a variety of customization and color options, including a dark mode for those who work at night.
Who is it for?
Freelancers who don’t want to break the bank but still track their time will find Clockify beneficial.
Small companies can also benefit from this as they won’t need to spend money on every employee.
- Necessary tools are free
- Easy to use
- Export automatically created reports
- Good integration with mobile app
- Online use only
- No screenshot functions
Alternative: Zoho Projects
Zoho Projects doesn’t have a desktop app. Instead, everything is done through your browser. It does, however, have a mobile app for IOS and Android devices.
For this review, we looked at the premium version which we feel is fairly priced.
All versions come with a free 10-day trial.
Projects are created and assigned under the Projects Tab. Any time a project is assigned or changed, a notification appears in the Feed section. This keeps everyone involved in constant communication and up to date on recent developments.
Creating task dependencies allows you to set the order in which projects should be completed.
Using the dashboard, you can see live snapshots of projects and their details.
Being a browser-only software brings with it similar problems as Clockify. Not being able to work offline is a big disadvantage.
It lacks some integration abilities found in other platforms like Monday.com. For example, a freelance writer won’t be able to access Google Docs through Zoho Projects, forcing them to spend their time swapping between applications.
Zoho Projects’s user interface uses labeled tabs and icons to prevent any confusion navigating all the data on display.
Who is it for?
As an alternative to Clockify, Zoho Projects is designed for small or large businesses monitoring employee work ethics and productivity levels at an affordable price.
If you’re hoping to integrate other applications, then we recommend finding an alternative.
- Good customer support
- Highly automated
- Good use of graphs and charts
- No computer app
- Lacking integration
How to Choose Accountability Software
One of the factors to consider when choosing an accountability software is who will use it and what they’ll use it for.
If you use many different applications for operations, accountability software with good integration works best.
In this case, Monday.com offers a wide variety of integrations.
Or you have a small business and want a large number of accountability features. For this, DeskTime gives you the best value for money.
Most of the accountability software offers free trials so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.
Before you get started with accountability software, you need to see if your system can run it.
Zoho Projects is the only option that runs entirely through a browser, so it should work on even the most arcane systems.
There are also connectivity concerns when choosing your accountability software.
Clockify needs a permanent internet connection, which could prove challenging for companies relying on remote or dispersed workers.
What are the advantages of Accountability software?
Accountability software pushes distractions aside by monitoring your screen and productivity levels when working.
This increases trust in the workplace as people who feel accountable work harder and can be relied upon when assigned projects or tasks.
Accountability software should utilize time-tracking. They allow you to plan your day accordingly and with organizational and time-management skills.
What’s the best way to use Accountability Software?
Accountability software is something that needs to be used every day to produce accurate results. If you skip days, monitoring progress accurately will be impossible, and your results won’t be valuable.
Pay attention to which permissions everyone has. If everyone has administrative access, they can make high-level changes that could throw your organization into chaos.
Lastly, you should ensure everyone is aware of the security policies. Most accountability software takes screenshots, monitoring what users do on their computer, which some may see as an invasion of privacy.
Are there any disadvantages to using Accountability Software?
Some software will include features that you may not need.
These features are included in the package and there’s no way to pay for a package that excludes them, leading to unnecessary costs.
Invasion of privacy is another concern for some people.
Most of the software makes use of screenshots and real-time recording to track your progress. It won’t access any files, but it could screenshot personal details that can be viewed by your team or employer.
While all platforms have useful features, only one has everything we’re looking for: Hubstaff.
Not only does it have project management features, but its excellent user interface and how it makes use of graphs and charts add a visual flair that the other software can’t replicate.
It has a good number of integrations, an easy-to-use interface, compiles comprehensive reports, and the best time tracking feature out of the other contenders.
If you feel that Hubstaff has too many features you won’t use, consider purchasing a budget option like Clockify. It has the basics of a good accountability program.
Mike Hostetler is an Entrepreneur & Technologist currently working to help technical teams grow and thrive. Mike formerly founded appendTo, a boutique consultancy born out of the jQuery project. He is an active OSS supporter and currently serves as CEO & Publisher of ModernWeb.com. Mike is passionate about Remote Work, the Future of Work, Leadership and helping others succeed.